Climate change is a global issue with community-level solutions

The world is changing and we're seeing the impacts everyday in Illinois. Weather patterns have shifted significantly in the past century, with Illinois dealing with both warmer temperatures and more precipitation. Intense rainfalls have led to increased urban and rural flooding as well as more frequent summer drought stress and the potential for water shortages.

Small changes at the local level can have a big impact. 

The Illinois Extension Climate Steward program is a course that trains environmental stewards to communicate about climate change and engage in local solutions. Our vision is to build engaged communities and ecosystems that are resilient in a changing climate in Illinois and beyond.

Climate Steward participants will gain:

  • An understanding of the basic social and emotional aspects of environmental, conservation, and climate work
  • The ability to communicate the science behind global warming and climate change
  • Give examples of local adaptation, mitigation, and resilience efforts 

Course Structure

Illinois Extension Climate Stewards will launch in 2024 and will combine classroom, online, and field experiences in earth systems, water, energy, and agriculture using research-based practices. It will also include communication training, participatory science, and community service opportunities. The course also includes an overview of state and local climate policies.

  • 36 hours of live presentations and readings
  • Discussions with topics experts and advocates
  • Units 1 and 2: Communication and Community Building
    • Topics: Psychological, social, and cognitive science of communication; trauma-aware education
  • Units 3 and 4: Climate Science
    • Topics: Soil and water; greenhouse effect; climate modeling programs; impacts on Illinois; energy 
  • Units 5 and 6: Community resilience and capstone
    • Topics: Mitigation and adaptation; environmental justice; assessing climate vulnerability; community presentations

After certification, Illinois Extension Climate Stewards are encouraged to volunteer in activities ranging from community and participatory science, land and water stewardship, environmental justice and civic engagement, and education and interpretation activities.

The Illinois Extension Climate Stewards curriculum is licensed from University of California, Davis, and has been adapted for the Midwest and Illinois.


Ready to help change the world? Enrollment opens summer 2024

Those interested in taking the Illinois Extension Climate Steward course should contact their local county Extension office about training opportunities.

Illinois Extension Climate Steward coordinators

Duane Friend

Duane Friend

State Master Naturalist Coordinator and Climate Change Specialist
Urban Gardening
Master Naturalist
PSEP Training
Small Farms
(217) 243-7424
C. Eliana Brown

C. Eliana Brown

Water Quality and Stormwater Specialist
Landscape Architecture
Master Gardeners
Master Naturalist
Native Plants
Pollinator Habitat
(217) 265-0760